Frequently asked questions about school transport assistance

How is the distance from home to school measured?

Distance is measured by the shortest reasonable walking route, by which a child may walk safely.

In cases where extended rights apply and the child is travelling more than two miles and no more than six (or 15 if the preferred school has been chosen based on grounds of religion or belief), then the short route will be measured along road/driving routes.

What is meant by an appropriate school?

An appropriate school is taken to mean the nearest qualifying school with places available that provides education appropriate to the child’s age, ability and aptitude as well as any SEN that the child may have.

Qualifying schools can be:

  • Community, foundation or voluntary schools
  • Community or foundation special schools
  • Non-maintained schools
  • Pupil referral units
  • Maintained nursery schools
  • City technical colleges (CTC)
  • City colleges for the technology of arts (CCTA)
  • Academies, including free schools and University Technical Colleges (UTC)

An independent school can also be qualifying where this is assessed as being the nearest, most appropriate school and is named in their Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

What if the child is registered at more than one qualifying school?

This is called Dual Registration and so the relevant educational establishment is whichever of the schools the child is attending at the relevant time.

What if the child has no fixed address?

Travel assistance arrangements will apply from wherever the child is residing at the relevant time to the nearest suitable school.

What if the child has been temporarily excluded?

Where a pupil is registered at a school, but is attending a place other than that school as a result of a temporary exclusion, eligibility will apply in relation to the educational setting which they are attending for the duration of that exclusion.

When and where will my child be picked up / dropped off?

We will assist with travel to or from a school or education setting either at:

  • The start and end of their school day
  • At the start and end of their scheduled hours, if on a reduced timetable
  • At the start and end of their provision periods as agreed by Southampton City Council, if attending a residential provision

We will not offer travel assistance to and from after school events, like sports events or breakfast clubs.

Where appropriate and reasonable, parents may be expected to take their child to and/or from a pick-up or drop off point. These points will be within one mile of the child’s home address.

Parents / carers are responsible for the safety of their child until they board and after they exit the vehicle. If the parent/carer is not at the drop off point to meet their child, he/she will be placed into the care of the Duty Social Worker at Children's Social Care. The parent/carer may be responsible for any additional expenditure incurred.

What types of travel assistance is available?

We are committed to identifying sustainable modes of transport for transport assistance where appropriate and suitable for the child or young person. It will also be decided which the most cost-effective method is.

Examples of the types of transport considered are, but not limited to:

  • Independent travel training – if they are a Year 9 student and above with a special educational needs and/or disabilities, children and young people will be assessed for independent travel training, allowing students to have the confidence and ability to travel independently after specialist training
  • Walking escort - An escort may be provided to accompany a child on the walk to school / education setting where walking is an appropriate means of making the journey, and parental consent to the arrangement
  • Transport escort - Passenger escorts are provided in individual cases where the local authority feels it is necessary to meet a child’s individual needs. The role of the passenger escort will be to provide general supervision and ensure that a child’s journey to and from school is safe.
  • Bus Pass or Rail Pass
  • Taxi
  • Personal Transport Budget A travel budget may be provided to enable parents to make their own arrangements for their child to travel to and from their education setting.

Alternative options if your child is not accepted

English National Concessionary bus pass

Southampton residents over 5 years of age who have a long-term eligible disability can apply for an off-peak travel (between 9:30am and 11pm) bus pass.

If your bus pass has been issued by us, you can also use it when boarding a bus within the city's boundary between 9am and 12:30am Monday to Friday.

If your child is registered as severely sight-impaired, they will be entitled to free bus travel at any time within Southampton.

If your child cannot travel alone, they may qualify for a companion bus pass. This will allow one carer to travel with them free of charge on journeys within the city boundary.

See our SmartCities application form for more information


Privilege places

Students who are not eligible for funded transport assistance may be able to buy spare seats on a contract vehicle. This is called “Privilege Transport” and costs £750 per year.
Privilege seats are not usually allocated until after the school year has begun, and potentially not until October. Privilege seats are not guaranteed and can only be offered whilst the seat is not needed for an eligible student.

Please be aware that privilege places can be withdrawn if they are needed for eligible children. Should we need to withdraw your place, we will give you 10 days’ notice and refund you on a pro-rata basis.


How to do I apply for a privilege place?

You can contact travel.coordination@southampton.gov.uk to find out more information and request an application.

Parents/carers buying a privilege seat will need to submit a new application form each year.